The Operation Vanguard Team has undertaken one thousand and 33 operations in the Western, Ashanti, Eastern and Central Regions, arresting one thousand, two hundred and 33 galamsey operators in the past thirty months.
This was made known by the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the team, Squadron Leader Robertson Omari Agyei, during an encounter with the chiefs and people of Osino in the Fanteakwa South District of the Eastern Region.
He said in addition, 548 excavators, one thousand, 447 water pumping machines, 79 vehicles, 81 motorbikes, five thousand, 231 changfans, 101 guns and two thousand, 347 bullets were seized in the process.
According to Squadron Leader Agyei, the arrested persons included 172 Chinese, ten Togolese, four Burkinabes, three Nigerians and one each from India and Benin, who have all been put before the law courts.
He added that there has been good collaboration between the police and military in building the much needed public confidence with the local people to achieve results.
This, he said, has led to an improvement in water bodies and a low crime rate and advocated for the support of all stakeholders for better results.
Squadron Leader Agyei outlined some of the challenges they face as, inadequate transport systems leading to the difficulty in hauling seized equipment to operational areas and the unavailability of drones.
He also proposed stiffer punishments for offenders to serve as deterrent to others.
For his part, the District Chief Executive of Fanteakwa, Charles Owari Tweneboah, asked perpetrators to consider the plight of future generations when undertaking the dangerous activity and pledged his office’s readiness to help expose the negative aspects of galamsey.
He opined that the government has put efforts in place for alternative livelihood programmes to support those who quit galamsey and urged all to collaborate in the fight against illegal mining.
The Media Coalition Against Galamsey aims to protect water bodies, forest reserves and lands through education via Town Hall Meetings. Participants include GBC, Graphic Communications Group Limited, New Times Corporation, Ghana Journalists Association, Private Newspapers Association of Ghana, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Star-Ghana, NCCE, Parliament of Ghana, among others.